The 15th annual Budapest Burns Supper, held at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest on 28 January 2012, raised almost HUF 5 million for children’s hospitals in Hungary. The Robert Burns International Foundation, which organises the event and oversees distribution of the money, put the figure raised on the night at HUF 4.8 million.

 

“Each year the Foundation aims to support five hospital projects each with HUF 1 million from the Burns Supper itself, which we will be able to do as we have a surplus in hand from previous years.”

The Burns Supper is a traditional Caledonian event staged in Scottish communities across the world, which recalls the words and deeds of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. A key part is the Immortal Memory, an address about the man, his humanity and his poetry. This year the Budapest Burns Supper broke somewhat with tradition, but surely in a way Burns himself, a lover of life and children, would have appreciated. So instead of fine words, there were three short musical performances, each given by a young child who had recovered from serious illness thanks, in part, to money raised by previous Budapest suppers.

Prof Dr György Fekete, the RBIF’s medical advisor, explained to the roughly 200 guests (who each made a donation of HUF 25,000 for their seat), exactly what a difference the fundraising event has made. “The first child was saved [using equipment bought with Burns Supper money] 15 years ago and is now 15 years old. I hope we can all be here together in the coming years and can celebrate the 30th anniversary, when this ‘child’ will be already 30 years old!”

He added that, “The charity of the Scottish community in Hungary has such a valuable impact even for the children themselves.” Parents, patients and hospital staff know and appreciate the generous fundraising of the Burns Supper, he said.

Fekete is the former Director of the II Paediatric Department of Semmelweis University in Budapest, which has received much support from the Burns Supper through the years. In his role as medical adviser to the RBIF, he helps sift through the many hospital applications for support to find and select the most appropriate and deserving projects.

Jock MacKenzie, who chairs the curatorium that oversees the RBIF’s activities, spoke of his surprise and pride that the Supper had been running for 15 years, and thanked guests for their continued support, both for it and the children they helped treat. “I’d simply like to say thank you for coming, and for keeping coming,” he said.

The 14th annual Budapest Burns Supper, held at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest on Saturday 29 January 2011, hit its charity fund raising target.

The evening, held in honour of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, has become a major event in the Budapest social calendar, and has raised hundreds of millions of forints for sick Hungarian children over the years. While full figures will take some time to confirm, Jock MacKenzie of the Robert Burns International Foundation was upbeat about the total.

“We can say that HUF 5.5 million net clear of all direct costs was raised on the night to help sick and underprivileged children,” he said after the black tie and Highland dress ball. That would put it on a par with last year’s event and, given the foundation’s zero overhead policy, all of that will go to worthy causes. “The net distributable sum is a very significant sum in present circumstances,” McKenzie added.

Guest of honour at the evening was Andy Roxburgh. A long-time friend of  Zoltán Magyar, the founder of the RBIF, Roxburgh has connections with the Budapest Burns Supper through another footballing name. Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United Football Club and the honorary president of the RBIF, has been a friend of Roxburgh since their playing days in the 1970s. Currently a UEFA Technical Director, Roxburgh played for a number of Scottish clubs, and successfully coached the juniors to the UEFA European Under-18 Football Championship in 1982. He is best known, however, for his seven-year period in charge of the national squad from 1986 to 1993.

The Burns Supper also saw the EUR 50,000 Marathon Effort For SOTE II officially closed by appeal chairman Patrick McMenamin of the Caledonia Bar. To do so, the final HUF 3 million had to be found, and that money is in addition to the HUF 5.5 million raised at the Supper. The appeal is paying for three parent and child suites for “distant trauma” patients coming into Budapest from the Hungarian countryside at the second department of paediatrics at SOTE University Hospital. The units are expected to come into use in February or March. The funds were raised through sponsorship of expats Simon Saunders and Harry Harron, who completed the Marathon des Sables, five and a half marathons in six days across the Sahara desert, in April 2010.

By: Robin Marshall, MBE

The 13th annual Budapest Burns Supper, our charity fund raiser held at the Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal on Saturday 30 January 2010, raised “more than HUF 10 million” on the night.

The evening, held in honour of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, has become a key event in the Budapest social calendar, and has raised thousands of millions of forints for sick Hungarian children over the years.

While full figures will take some time to arrive at, Jock MacKenzie, chairman of the Robert Burns International Foundation, which distributes the money, was upbeat about the total.

“We can say that Ft10 million was raised on the night, which we are very happy with, and more has been pledged since.”

A focus of this year’s supper was getting people to donate 1% of their personal income tax to the RBIF, at no extra cost as the Hungarian government agrees to give up the money from its tax take, provided a nomination is made.

Stuart McAlister, managing director of the Inter Relocation Group, and chairman of the Burns Supper organising committee, said that the RBIF had received HUF 1 million forints last year “without really trying,” and was hoping to raise awareness both of the scheme itself, and the Foundation’s ability to benefit from it. Adrian Gray, General Manager of Le Meridien Hotel Budapest, and a member of the Curatorium which runs the RBIF, said one idea being considered was to appoint a “1% Champion”.

Pictured from left to right, Zoltán Magyar, founder of the RBIF, president of the Hungarian Scottish Society, William John “Willie” McStay, the Scottish-born coach of Újpest FC, presenting the Ferenc Puskás – Sir Alex Ferguson trophy to Attila Erdei, Commercial Director for Diageo in Hungary and Croatia, Jock MacKenzie, Chairman of the Curatorium of the RBIF, and Stuart McAlister, Chairman of the Budapest Burns Supper Committee. (Photo by Tamás Rajna)

“We obviously want those who were there at the Supper to give their 1% to the Foundation, but we would also like the chief executives among them to encourage their employees who don’t yet make a donation to consider doing so to the RBIF,” Gray said.

Precise, up-to-date figures are not easy to find, but Mónika Keztyûs, a tax manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says that the scheme covers all 3.5 million people who are liable to pay tax in Hungary. The amount raised in 2009, which was based on the 2008 tax returns, was put at HUF 9.4 billion (€34.8 million), she explained, split between 28,000 nominated charities and foundations.

The Burns Supper also saw the official launch, by British Ambassador Greg Dorey, of a €50,000 appeal for the second department of paediatrics at SOTE University Hospital, to build parent and child suites for “distant trauma” patients coming into Budapest from the Hungarian countryside, and possibly even abroad. The money is to be raised in large part by expats Simon Saunders and Harry Harron, who are competing in the Marathon des Sables in April. Billed as the toughest foot race on earth, it involves running five and a half marathons in six days across the Sahara desert.

For more information on their efforts, visit the team’s own blog.

Around 250 guests, a mixture of expats and Hungarians, attended the 12th annual Budapest Burns Supper at the Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal on Saturday, 24 January 2009. The traditional Scottish event marks the birth, life and work of Rabbie (Robert) Burns, who would have been 250 this year, and has become known as the national bard of Scotland.

Jock MacKenzie of the Hungarian-Scottish Society said event, “cleared HUF 7 million for charity, which was tremendous success given the current economic climate”. The funds will go towards helping local children in need.

Event chairman, Stuart McAlister, believes the Supper remains popular for a number of reasons, not least the “spectacle, the combination of a formal dinner with the relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere that a Burns Supper creates”.

Entertainment on the night included the Robert Burns International Foundation drum and pipe band, a group of past and present world champion drummers and pipers from two or three bands who come together each year to fly out to Budapest and play at this event.

There were also dancers from the SOTE clinic, all children who have been treated at one of the hospitals supported by the Supper, as well as a Scottish dance group, the Dagda ceilidh band, Scottish dancing for the guests, led by Debbie Moss, whisky tasting sponsored by Diageo and the Dreher Burns Bar.

By Robin Marshall MBE

The annual charity fundraising Budapest Burns Supper looks on target to have raised HUF 14 million (almost $80,000 at January 2008 exchange rates) this year, a record for the night according to Jock MacKenzie, chairman of the Robert Burns International Foundation.

The Burns Supper is a traditional event marking the birth of Rabbie (Robert) Burns, the national bard of Scotland. The super on Saturday, 26 January 2008 was the 11th held in Budapest, and attracted the usual mix of Scottish expats and Hungarian and international friends of Scotland.

In recent years, the supper has become a celebration of the work done by the RBIF throughout the year – the foundation specialises in helping Hungarian children in need – though it remains an important fundraiser.

Last year’s 10th anniversary supper raised HUF 10 million ($57,000). Although this year’s figures have yet to be finalized, MacKenzie, speaking exclusively to The Budapest Sun, said he was “comfortable” with the figures and was certain last year’s total had been eclipsed.

The generous support of the Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal in keeping its prices “rock bottom” had ensured a profit was made on the tables, HUF 2 million ($11,400) was raised through the raffle and HUF 9 million ($51,400) through the silent and spoken auctions. The final total may yet go beyond HUF 14 million MacKenzie said. Included in it are strong pledges from companies for financial support.

“One of those is firm for HUF 3 million ($17,100), but it may yet become HUF 4 million ($22,800) or even HUF 5 million ($28,500)…. I’d like to thank all our sponsors, who have been even more generous this year, and our [organising] team for making all this happen so seamlessly, and achieving such a tremendous result.” The secret to the success, he believes, is keeping the evening a celebration and fun for all.

By Robin Marshall

The annual Budapest Burns Supper, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, reached its fundraising target of HUF 10 million ($51,000 at January 2007 exchange rates) for the evening.

Event chairman Stuart McAlister told The Budapest Sun, “In recent years the Burns Supper has become a celebration of the ongoing work of the Robert Burns International Foundation.

“As such, we haven’t raised as much at the event itself as we have sometimes in the past, when the Burns Supper was the focal point for our charitable activities. Given that, the fact that we beat our target and raised more than HUF 10 million on the night [Saturday, January 27 2007] really was a very significant achievement.

“This was my sixth Burns Supper as a committee member. I do not remember there ever being such a buzz on the night, or as much positive feedback as I’ve received after the 2007 Supper.

“I’d like to pass on a huge thanks to all those sponsors, performers, hotel staff, press and the committee; without their support none of this would be possible,” he added.

By Robin Marshall

The eighth annual Budapest Burns’ Supper – a Scottish tradition held to mark the memory of the national poet Rabbie Burns – looks like it will have raised another HUF 7 million ($37,000 at January 2005 exchange rates) for sick and needy Hungarian children.

The event on Saturday, January 29 2005, was being held for the second year at the Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal, and with Stuart McAlister, of Inter Relocation, acting as Chairman of the organising committee, and Develor’s Keith Parker as MC.

It featured all the usual staples of a Burns Supper. The meal began after the saying of the Selkirk Grace by the Rev. Ken Mackenzie, with a Hungarian translation given by Zoltán Magyar, President of the Hungarian-Scottish Society.

The haggis was piped in by representatives of the Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band – at one point also featuring Le Méridien’s general manager Adrian Gray, whose brother is a member – and addressed by former Burns’ Supper chairman Mark Muss of Interdean.Interconex.

British Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Michael Ward, using Johnny Walker Gold Label whisky, which was being launched in Hungary on the evening, gave the Loyal Toasts to Hungarian President Ferenc Mádl and the Hungarian people, and to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

By Robin Marshall

AROUND 300 guests raised more than HUF 12 million for children’s charities on Saturday, 24 January 2004 at the seventh annual Budapest Burns Supper.

Highlights at the event, held for the first time at the Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal, included the world champion Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band and the dance troupe Steps of the Celts, but also entertainment from children treated at the Second Department of Paediatrics of Semmelweis University Hospital, one of the principal beneficiaries of money raised over the past six years. The address to the haggis was this year given by Norrie Sinclair, but in a break from the norm, Nicola Reynolds presented the Immortal Memory to Burns in the form of a song.

(A version of this article first appeared in The Budapest Sun in early 2004)

Four hundred or so tartan-clad guests, gallons of free whisky, plates full of haggis, neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes) and some incredibly hairy men wielding hefty weapons – it could only be Budapest’s annual Burns Supper.

Organised by the Hungarian-Scottish Society, the charity event, now in its sixth year, was held for the first time at Budapest’s Marriott Hotel on the night of Saturday, 25 January 2003.

The evening, which not only celebrates the life and works of Scotland’s most famous poet, but also the cultural similarities between the Hungarian and Scottish nations, has raised more than HUF 30.6 million ($125,000 at January 2003 exchange rates) for sick and needy children in Hungary since its inception.

At the time of going to press, the event’s organisers were unable to confirm exactly how much this year’s event had generated for good causes, but founder Jock MacKenzie was happy to report the final figure would be very close to the target of HUF 18 million ($79,300).

“It was a successful night enjoyed by everyone who attended,” MacKenzie said. He continued that the society hoped to release details about the amount of money raised and how it would be distributed in a matter of days.

Chairman of the event and MC for the evening Mark Muss said, “I was delighted to chair the event for a third time. It was a fantastic night and I would like to thank everyone who attended and all our helpers and sponsors for supporting such an important and worthy cause.”

By John Hayes

Whoever it was that first said the Scottish were tight with money was proved wrong when more than HUF 12 million ($42,360 at January 2002 exchange rates) was raised for sick and needy children in the name of one of Scotland’s best-known sons.

The fifth annual Budapest Burns Supper, organised by the Hungarian-Scottish Society at the InterContinental Hotel on Saturday, January 26 2002, got off to a high kicking start thanks the stars of the Moulin Rouge Club on Nagymező utca.

The night not only celebrates the life and works of Burns but also the cultural similarities between the Scottish and Hungarian nations. It followed the traditional formula of events held in Scotland for more than 200 years, but with a Hungarian twist. Copious amounts of whisky and the local pálinka brandy helped around 450 guests wash down the traditional haggis, neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes) accompanied by Hungarian hurka (a type of sausage).

Aside from the tartan-fringed festivities, the main focus of the evening was helping children in Hungary. At the time of going to press, event chairman and MC for the evening Mark Muss (of moving firm Interdean.Interconex) reported that in excess of HUF 12 million had been raised.

“We have not finished counting the money yet,” Muss said. “I would like to thank everyone who attended the night and all those involved for making it such a success.”

This year’s funds are being donated to help purchase an Intensive Therapy Diagnostic Unit for the II Department of Paediatrics at the Semmelweis University Hospital. Money will also be used to help improve the quality of lives for numerous suffers of Down’s syndrome at the request of Dr György Fekete, Director of the II Department, and also the Chairman of the Paediatric Association.

Vice President of the Hungarian-Scottish Society and founder of the event, Jock Mackenzie, was delighted with the results. “We have learned a lot this year and I am delighted to say that we reached our objectives. Next year is going to be even bigger and better.” Mackenzie is also pursuing efforts to push the Budapest Burns Supper formula all over the region to raise funds for children while having fun at the same time.

By Sarah Spencer